New Zealand to ban single-use plastic bags

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sits in a chair as she attends her first cabinet meeting since returning from maternity leave in Wellington, New Zealand, August 6, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 10 August 2018
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New Zealand to ban single-use plastic bags

  • A United Nations report in June said up to five trillion grocery bags are used globally each year, which is nearly 10 million plastic bags per minute
  • Single-use plastic bags are among the most common items found in coastal litter in New Zealand

WELLINGTON: New Zealand became the latest country Friday to outlaw single-use plastic shopping bags, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying they will be phased out over the next year as a “meaningful step” toward reducing pollution.
New Zealand uses “hundreds of millions” of single-use plastic bags each year, many of which end up harming marine life, Ardern said.
“We need to be far smarter in the way we manage waste and this is a good start,” she said.
“We’re phasing-out single-use plastic bags so we can better look after our environment and safeguard New Zealand’s clean, green reputation.”
Ardern said her coalition government, which includes the Green Party, was facing up to environmental challenges and “just like climate change, we’re taking meaningful steps to reduce plastics pollution so we don’t pass this problem to future generations.”
Single-use plastic bags are among the most common items found in coastal litter in New Zealand and the environmental group Greenpeace welcomed the decision to outlaw them.
“This could be a major leap forward in turning the tide on ocean plastic pollution and an important first step in protecting marine life such as sea turtles and whales, from the growing plastic waste epidemic,” Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner Emily Hunter said.
A United Nations report in June said up to five trillion grocery bags are used globally each year, which is nearly 10 million plastic bags per minute.
“If tied together, all these plastic bags could be wrapped around the world seven times every hour” and like most plastic garbage barely any is recycled, said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.
The UN said more than 60 countries had introduced bans and levies on single-use plastic items like bags.
But better waste management, financial incentives to change consumers’ buying habits and research into alternative materials were needed to make any real change, it added.


No indication North Korea nuclear activities stopped: UN watchdog

Updated 21 August 2018
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No indication North Korea nuclear activities stopped: UN watchdog

  • ‘The continuation and further development of the DPRK’s nuclear program and related statements by the DPRK are a cause for grave concern’
  • The watchdog has stepped up monitoring through open source information and satellite imagery

VIENNA: The UN’s nuclear watchdog said it had not seen any indication that nuclear activities in North Korea have stopped despite its pledges to denuclearize.
“The continuation and further development of the DPRK’s nuclear program and related statements by the DPRK are a cause for grave concern,” said a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), referring to North Korea’s official name.
The report, published late Monday, by the director general of Yukiya Amano is to be submitted to an IAEA board meeting in September.
In 2009 Pyongyang expelled IAEA inspectors from its Yongbyon nuclear site and has since refused to allow IAEA inspections on its territory.
The watchdog has stepped up monitoring through open source information and satellite imagery, it said.
“As the Agency remains unable to carry out verification activities in the DPRK, its knowledge of the DPRK’s nuclear program is limited and, as further nuclear activities take place in the country, this knowledge is declining,” it said.
Between late-April and early-May, there were indications of the operation of the steam plant that serves the radiochemical laboratory at the Yongbyon site, according to the report.
However, the duration of the steam plant’s operation was not sufficient to have supported the reprocessing of a complete core from the experimental nuclear power plant reactor, it added.
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump held a groundbreaking summit in Singapore in June.
At the meeting the pair struck a vague agreement to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, but there has been little movement since.
Before this, Kim met South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April for their first summit. They agreed to push for a declaration of an end to the Korean War this year.